The reality-television star Park Schnabel acquired a loyal following due to his participation in the TV series, “Gold Rush.” Viewers were amazed by his gold mining performance, as he increased his haul each season in Alaska and Klondike, Yukon, even scoring the biggest gold haul in the history of the show. Discovery Channel launched the series in December 2010; the first season finale ended up as the most-viewed TV series on Friday night and they never looked back. They are in their 12th season this 2022 and are still dominating the rating game.

Get to know Parker Schnabel

Parker Schnabel came from a family of gold miners. He was born on 22 July 1994 to parents Roger and Nancy Schnabel, in Haines, Alaska. He and his brother, Payson Schnabel, grew up surrounded by people in the gold mining industry, as his grandfather owned a gold mine called The Big Nugget. At the age of five, he was already well-versed in gold mining lingo, and as a young teen, was trained to handle heavy machinery.

While others would loathe that they were not given a chance to enjoy a normal childhood, Parker was grateful for it, and credited his early training as one of the reasons for whatever success he has now.

He finished high school, but would spend all his spare time in the gold mining business. At the age of 16, Parker was given the green light by his grandfather to take over the reins of the business, and he started mining at The Big Nugget located in Porcupine Creek, Alaska. He had trouble initially with the older miners, as they weren’t used to being told what to do by a teenager, and were skeptical about what he could do. However, he proved them all wrong, as he led his crew from one successful mining venture to another.

His 11-year journey with “Gold Rush”

Parker’s gold mining journey may have been surreal to others, starting at such a young age, but it was what he enjoyed doing the most in life.

When an offer to be part of the reality-TV series, “Gold Rush” came to him, he grabbed it with open arms. He experienced success and became a millionaire in his early 20’s, but he never led a lavish life. Most of his earnings went into expanding his business.

The premise of the TV show, “Gold Rush”

For the first season of the TV show, it was initially entitled “Gold Rush: Alaska”, but then other places to mine were discovered, and by the second season it was simply called “Gold Rush.” The TV show chronicled the placer gold mining activities of several family-run companies in Alaska, USA, and in the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada. Later on, they even went to the western part of North America, and explored possibilities in South America.

The show started with six men from Oregon whose families were hit by the economic downturn. They were all willing to risk everything to strike it rich in the middle of nowhere, just looking for gold.

Most of them were ready to die for it, as the old miners believed that ‘there isn’t any man in America if he has anything inside him, who wouldn’t want to be here with us.’ With the price of gold at an all-time high during that time, they knew that if they could pull it off, it would be life-changing. The main downside of this business was that they needed to put everything they had into the biggest gamble of their lives, and it doesn’t always end up great for the miners. Some go back home with higher debts, but some persevered enough to find gold, and eventually became richer.

Parker joined the main cast of “Gold Rush” in 2011

When Discovery Channel learned that Parker had been handed the rights to mine The Big Nugget, they offered to document his journey on the TV show. Initially, within a week of mining, he found gold half the amount of what other miners in their first season got for the whole year, however, he faced many problems along the way.

Even when Parker explored all the possibilities using his experience along with tips and advice from his grandfather, it wasn’t enough to reach his target. He only ended up with 34ozt which was about 1,100 grams of gold worth $55,000 at that time. It wasn’t really that bad, as it was his first time to strike solo. When older miners ignored his orders, as they doubted his decisions because of his age, Parker was smart enough to offer incentives, such as a profit-sharing scheme and bonuses to ensure that his crew would be more inspired to try harder, and it worked.

Recovered 1,029 ounces of gold at a new land in Dawson City

In the fourth season, Parker showed everyone what he’d got, given the right tools and land. He went to his mentor, Tony Beetz, and guest-mined on Tony’s land in the Klondike region in Dawson City, Yukon, and his crew ended the season with 1,029 ounces of gold worth $1.4 million.

It was such an impressive performance that it even broke the record of Todd Hoffman’s 803 ounces, one of the original miners of the show, for a single season. From then on, his total gold haul continued increasing each season.

Biggest gold haul with 7,427.25 ounces of gold in Season 9

For those loyal viewers who never lost faith in Parker’s gold mining abilities, despite the overwhelming obstacles that he encountered, they were rewarded in season nine when he had the biggest gold haul in the history of “Gold Rush.” Initially, he planned to mine his newly-acquired own land in Yukon, because he was tired of working with a landlord who would get royalties for whatever gold he dug up. However, he needed water for his operation, and that lay on the other side of his former landlord Tony Beetz’s property – he asked permission from Tony to let the water pass his property but Tony said no.

Parker felt that the reason why Tony didn’t approve was that he wanted him, Parker to keep on mining Tony’s property for the royalties. Tony, on the other hand, claimed that he felt disrespected by Parker, and he’d had enough. Parker didn’t have any choice but to go back to Tony’s property and just mine there. The good news was that he recovered close to 7,500 ounces of gold worth around $9 million from Scribner Creek in the Klondike region in Yukon. Once again, Parker broke the record in “Gold Rush”, as no other gold miner has reached this number in the show since its inception. After paying Tony his royalties, they reached an agreement that Parker could mine his own property, with the water passing through Tony’s land.

Parker’s biggest payday from mining gold during the pandemic

When the world experienced a pandemic due to the Covid-19 virus, every single industry was affected, including the gold mining business.

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However, since miners were categorized as essential workers, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal except that in the case of Parker and the rest of the cast of “Gold Rush,” they have a TV crew to deal with for its 11th season – the crew wasn’t listed under the essential workers’ category, and so was sent home, and filming halted as well as mining operations. Almost all workers went back to be with their families, and were quarantined.

Things changed when the pandemic gave them the perfect condition in mining gold, as the value of gold reached an all-time high, while fuel costs went way down. Parker knew they had to take advantage of the situation, and so did his best to reach Yukon after getting past the borders. Other “Gold Rush” miners did the same, and a local filming crew was hired to resume filming another season of the show. Everyone got a late start, and Parker was initially apprehensive, as he was so used to winning, but knew that this would be the most challenging year for him.

His team followed him wherever he went, and the season ended with Parker mining 7,223 ounces of gold, 204 short of his previous record, but by mining his own ground, he increased his profits by more than a million dollars – they paid around 1,400 ounces of gold for royalties the previous season, so this time he got his biggest payday. With gold price peaking at around $1,500 an ounce, he ‘d broken through the next level with over $10 million. He said that in gold mining, you are only as good as the team who work with you and claimed that he has the best team out there.

His love-hate relationship with his mentor, Tony Beetz

When he handed back the reins of mining the Big Nugget to his grandfather, he left Alaska and traveled to Canada. He went to Tony Beetz, one of the legendary gold miners in the Klondike region to ask for advice and the latter took a chance, taking the teenager under his wing, and letting him mine in one of his grounds. The veteran gold miner helped the teen prove everyone wrong, and was rewarded by the overwhelming results that Parker achieved each season.

Due to Parker’s continued success, along with his different views on gold mining, he and Tony often found themselves at odds with each other. While they continued to have a working relationship, their personal friendship suffered. Whether it was scripted or staged as some fans believed it to be, to give a better narrative to the viewers, both benefited from it.

Parker at one time wanted to quit

Despite all the success he had in the previous seasons, there was a time when Parker wanted to quit, all revealed in an episode entitled “Three Sides to Every Story” in the 10th season. He was completely crushed by all the unfortunate things that happened around him, and felt that he’d lost control of everything.

First, he broke up with his girlfriend, Ashley Youle, whom he’d met when he went to Australia in 2016; he invited her over to join him and be part of “Gold Rush”, and she agreed.

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While she had limited screen time, Parker said that she was a huge help to him when he returned to Alaska to mine one of their claims. She was introduced in the seventh season, but by the eighth season she was no longer part of the show. Parker said that his personal relationship was a failure, because she deserved someone better: ‘Ashley and I broke up. I just never made the relationship a priority. I didn’t make her a priority.’

Second, Rick Ness left and started his own mining crew; for six summers they were together all the time, living and mining side by side. Rick said during an interview that his friendship with Parker had always been a little volatile and a bit confusing, and worsened when he went off on his own. When the two met again so Rick could collect his bonus, he was quite disappointed by the amount he received.

Parker said he quit on him, and people who did that shouldn’t expect much bonus. Rick, on the other hand, felt that the amount should be based on his last performance. It became even worse when Rick took the rented pump in Parker’s ground because the lease was already up, and made a new deal with the owner. Parker said that the least Rick could have done was to ask first if he had any plans of using it before going behind his back and making a deal directly with the owner.

Third, his mechanic had an accident resulting in a career-threatening injury using Parker’s boat, and felt guilty about it. Lastly, he was forced to leave his own mining ground because Tony was playing hardball. Parker hit rock bottom, as nothing seemed to be going as he planned for that season. Fortunately, he was able to bounce back after being encouraged to put all his frustrations into finding gold.

Spin-off series, “Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail”

Due to the success that Parker enjoyed over the years in “Gold Rush,” he was given another show called “Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail.” This spin-off series focused on other places he traveled to and mined. It started in 2017 when his crew went on to follow the legendary Klondike Trail, which presented a quick and short way to reach the so-called Klondike Gold Rush. It proved to be a more dangerous path, and their journey was documented and aired in five episodes. In 2018, Parker and his team went to Guyana to try their luck in recovering gold there, and viewers were able to witness their adventure in seven episodes during their several stops.

By 2019, the third season of the show gave viewers 10 episodes in which Parker and his crew went to Papua New Guinea, and attempted to mine during each stop they made along the way.

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During the pandemic in 2020, his crew went to Australia and met with Tyler Mahoney, a star in another reality-TV show, “Aussies Gold Hunter”, looking for gold in Victoria and Western Australian.

Parker Schnabel gold haul each season

His gold mining records have been impressive from the start. He worked so hard to reach where he is now, and made sure his team would experience the same success by being a generous boss. Here’s the list of his gold haul since he first joined “Gold Rush”:

Parker joined the second season of the show in 2011, resulting in only 34 ounces of gold, and 191 in the next season. He knew he needed to step up if he wanted to be accepted fully as a legit gold miner, and during the fourth season he produced 1,029 ounces of gold, with people around him and viewers of the show stunned by the improvement in his mining skills. The amount of gold he recovered continued to increase each season: 2,538 (5th), 3,372 (6th), 4,311 (7th), 6,280 (8th), 7,427.25 (9th), 7,223 (10th) and 7,504.9 (11th). He and his crew had recovered close to 40,000 ounces of gold.

Where is he now?

Parker doesn’t have any permanent residence, as he would go from one ground to another; as long as there’s gold under it, that’s where anyone would find him. There was a rumor back in 2018 that he’d bought a luxurious home, and some fans asked him about it through social media, as it was a hot topic for online debate. He addressed the issue, saying that he doesn’t own a big luxurious house, as most of his money was invested to buy new tools and heavy machinery. He also said back then that he doesn’t own any fancy boats or cars. However, in the past season, it was revealed that he’d bought a boat and was enamored by it, so it was also possible that he’d changed his mind and bought a house.

However, Parker has been working hard to find new lands to claim in 2022, and fans can be assured that he will still be seen in future seasons of “Gold Rush.”

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